When Brandon Remmelgas first visited Trent University, he fell in love with Symons campus.
“It’s so outdoors; the architecture is beautiful,” says Remmelgas with a smile. “It was a great choice.”
Remmelgas is a jack-of-all-trades. A Bachelors in Biology graduate in the class of 2017, he leads the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) for the incoming year. The TCSA assesses students’ concerns and needs, and advocates for the student body.
The TCSA is concerned with many aspects of student life. By having student liaisons with a variety of student demographics, the Association can analyze and present options both to students and to the university administration.
Remmelgas says this is done two-fold. “The first way we advocate for students is by sitting on Trent committees and voicing concerns to administration, whether it be academically or service-related. The second thing we do is we are also critical of what services the university is providing, and seeing where we might need to step in and fill those gaps. Two examples of that are transit service, and our student health and dental benefits plan.”
The TCSA president indeed emphasizes making a priority of student health and wellness on campus. By collaborating with the Wellness Centre and Counselling Services, Remmelgas says, “Our goal for the April election is to have a new Vice President position open that will allows us to address [student health and wellness] issues specifically, in a more official capacity.”
Most notably this year, Remmelgas and the TCSA will be introducing the new Student Centre on the West Bank of Symons Campus. As the Association manages all the building’s non-academic space, one would forgive him for being intimidated, but he expresses only enthusiasm.
“The building is absolutely beautiful, and there’s lots of really great student space. There will be a Starbucks café, casual seating, private silent study areas, as well as spaces for clubs and groups on campus to organize, have meetings, paint banners.” He adds with a laugh, “If you’re looking for a great place to watch the Head of the Trent regatta, the Student Centre will be that place.”
Though his mood is light and energetic the Association president does take student life seriously, and the current political climate is not lost of him.
“We do not want students to feel unwelcome or unsafe in Trent’s more public spaces or at large events, such as Clubs and Groups day, which is Wednesday September 13 this year,” he notes thoughtfully. Through collaborative processes with student groups and university executives such as the Board of Governors, however, the TCSA plans to address any concerns to make Trent as safe as possible for all.
“We at the TCSA are passionate about what we do,” he says, matter-of-factly.
Getting involved with the TCSA is easy, says Remmelgas.
“There are two levels of involvement that you can choose to fit your schedule and interest of with the TCSA. On the lower key of things, we always need volunteers to help run events and elections.”
If you would like to be more involved, however, the TCSA president recommends running in a September or April election. Nominations for the fall Board of Directors election open Monday, September 18. Remmelgas particularly highlights the positions of First-Year On-Residence Commissioner and First-Year Off-Residence Commissioner, which are accepting nominees this fall.
“I would really like to get first-year students involved, as I feel like with key committees such as Housing and Food Services, it makes sense for people who experiences those services to be on those committees.”
As the 2017-2018 academic year begins, he welcomes new and returning students alike. A former residence don in three of four of Symons campus’ colleges, Remmelgas also has three pieces of advice for incoming students.
“Be open-minded,” he begins. “Be open to new experiences. Find something that you love and cling to it, whether it’s theatre or even academics. Extra-curriculars both in inside and outside the Trent community will enhance your university experience. University isn’t just about coming and getting a degree.”
Apologetically and with a smile, he continues: “But go to class. You gotta go to class, because if you do, you’ll be more successful.”
“Don’t afraid to ask for help,” he concludes. “Especially when it comes with mental and sexual health. There are lots of resources here to help you, and we’re one of them, but Blackburn Hall and your dons and instructors are here as well. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help.”
Follow the happenings with the Trent Central Student Association on Facebook, Twitter (@TheTCSA), and by downloading the TCSA app in your mobile app store.
Note: This article has two corrections against the print edition. It has been corrected to accurately state “housing and food services”; and that “university isn’t just about coming and getting a degree.” Our apologies.